When I grow up I want to be an alliance marketing manager

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I didn't choose alliance marketing as a career path—it chose me. Taking this career path has made a big difference in my success as a b-to-b marketer. When you think about it, the alliance marketer is really a jack of all trades, well equipped to plan and execute integrated marketing programs. Not only are folks in this role skilled in multiple marketing disciplines, they also are skilled in business development and sales functions. In fact, ask individuals in the field and more often than not, they'll describe their role as an alliance marketer as being part CMO, in that you are responsible for all marketing functions that touch the alliance partner.

If you are an alliance marketer, have you ever tried to describe to a family member or friend what you do on a daily basis? If so, I'm sure you have also received the same dazed and confused looks I have. Case in point: I recently shared with friends and family a video I did for a partner program with IBM. After viewing it, a few of my college friends told me that while they still weren't sure what I did for work, they certainly could play drinking games for all the words and phrases they didn't understand. While b-to-b tech marketers are guilty of using too much jargon, I started to wonder: Are b-to-b marketers really that complicated? Or is the issue really that alliance marketing isn't a widely known career field?

Most marketing students strive to obtain glamorous and sexy marketing roles like brand, PR or advertising managers. As an undergraduate marketing major back in the mid-'90's, I was no different. My marketing education (graduate school included) emphasized the typical consumer packaged goods and agency-focused marketing career tracks and case studies. B-to-b marketing was virtually nonexistent in most curricula at the time, and I certainly didn't say, "When I grow up, I want to be an alliance marketing manager."

That said, while alliance marketing might not be as sexy as other marketing careers, it certainly is a rewarding and exciting field. It's safe to say no day is ever the same, and, between your alliance partners and your internal teams, you'll always be kept on your toes!

In fact, here's a list of why alliances and alliance marketing should matter more than ever for b-to-b companies:

  • Alliance partnerships can become an extension of your sales force. (This, of course, depends on how they are structured.)
  • If staffed and compensated appropriately, alliance partnerships can drive additional revenue and create new routes to market.
  • Be selective with alliance partners—don't try and be all things to all people.

Recognize the type of alliance partner you have.

In future posts I'll explore (and make the case for) why alliance marketing should be a field more marketing majors and professionals alike should consider and how companies can benefit from the alliance marketing function. Additional topics I'll write on include a day in the life of an alliance marketer, the pros and cons of alliance marketing careers and how alliance marketing functions can help drive revenue and improve marketing programs.

And, in case you're wondering, I wanted to be an architect when I grew up.

You can follow me on twitter at or subscribe to my blog

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